WHISKY-ONLINE AUCTIONS JULY RESULTS 2019

Another very tasty private cask took the top spot in our latest auction: a 1990 barrel of Bowmore. A beautiful whisky and a scarce thing on the secondary market, it wasn’t surprising to see it fetch a very healthy £50,100. Following hard on its heels was another Bowmore, the 1966 50-year-old in a stunning wooden cabinet of which only 74 bottles were produced.

At £30,000 on the nose, this was another big placing for this iconic distillery. And, like the cask, not really surprising in this day and age considering how loftily Bowmore is regarded from its more notable eras of production.

Deman For Rarities

Getting into the bones of the auction there was, perhaps even more than usual, some potent examples of just how high the demand is for real rarities, legendary liquid and historic whiskies. The white label Highland Park tall bottling from the 1960s by Cadenhead finished up at £7800.

A clear lead on the next bottle down from it, Gordon & MacPhail’s 1953 Private Collection Linkwood at £5300. This parity of price says a few important things.

Firstly the power of two people getting crazy for one beautiful bottle. Secondly that these old authentic Cadenhead tall bottles from the 1960s and the whiskies contained within them are increasingly being recognised for the true artefacts of Scottish whisky they are.

And finally that a NAS single malt time capsule such as this, is often seen as more desirable than super longer aged examples bottled in more recent times. A fascinating and thrilling result for a bottle we’ll wait a long time to ever see again.

Another bottle that we don’t see too often is the Brora 1976 SMWS 61.1. This is the first-ever commercial bottling of Brora as a single malt and a legendary dram in its own right. It was no surprise to see this example in near perfect condition fetch a solid £5000.

Rare Macallan

It doesn’t usually take us this long to get to Macallan in these reports but this month saw some rather different older examples from this most chattered about of distillery. Not least a mouthwatering looking 1937 example from Gordon & MacPhail with a securo-cap.

These types of capsules were only used in the early 1960s so dating these bottles is much easier and they represent a true thrill to some collectors and whisky lovers who find them truly beautiful. There are many Macallans which will fetch more than £4600, which makes the hammer price of this stunning 1937 seem almost good value by comparison.

However, I’d take this bottle over any Lalique you could throw at me any day. A truly beautiful and historic bottle and a thrill of a thing to have in an auction.

Stunning Macallan

This wasn’t the only stunner from Macallan, perhaps equalling it, in not in hammer price then certainly in quality and desirability, was the rotation 1971 12-year-old 100 proof dark vatting by Gordon & MacPhail. The kind of whisky you dream to taste, unsurprisingly it finished up at a hefty £2450.

It’s a lot of money, but compared to the official Private Eye bottling above it at £3000, I which one I’d take. You can certainly make the argument with Macallan that the independent bottlings are still comparatively undervalued…

Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

This really was a sale where stunning old single malt bottlings from days gone by were the stars. A beautiful old official Miltonduff 13-year-old bottled at the wonderfully old school 85 proof around the turn of the 1950s fetched £2200.

While one of the earliest examples of the old Glenfarclas 105 8-year-old from the early 1960s – also with a securo-cap – fetched £2150. These kinds of bottles are the reason why many of us are into whisky and are often once in a lifetime finds.

Especially in this day and age where these kinds of bottles in this kind of condition so rarely turn up. They were followed by equally beautiful bottles such as Macallan 15-year-old by Gordon & MacPhail from the 1960s and an 8-year-old 100 proof Balblair from the 60s for £1950 a piece.

Age Of Bottle Or Age Of Whisky?

There almost isn’t space in this month’s report to mention other bottled but we’ll try and squeeze a few in. Another good example of meaningful price difference was the Glenfarclas 40-year-old, one of only 55 bottles which fetched £1500. A rather decent price and one which also looks interesting next to the old 105 proof 8-year-old at £2150. Age of bottle is often a greater motivation than age of whisky…

The Laphroaig 30-year-old Cairdeas did well at £1100. As did a 1956 Glen Grant bottled in 2006 by G&M for £950. Comparatively, a 1974 23-year-old Ardbeg by Signatory looks quite good at £850 – not too shabby a price for such a spectacular old whisky; although there were some signs of leakage.

Previously static Rare Malts continue to climb with the 1969 Millburn 35-year-old and the Mortlach 1972 23-year-old both hitting a healthy £675 – finally, these great whiskies starting to get some serious recognition.

Bargains?

In terms of bargains this sale, there were a few older bottlings that look almost reasonable, if not cheap, amongst all the high results. A perfect condition old Glenlivet 15-year-old 100 proof from the early 1970s by Gordon & MacPhail was on the lower end of its market value at £575.

Whereas a very rare 5-year-old Glen Grant from the 1960s by Campbell Hope & King was a bit of a steal at £340. Glen Grant still, by and large with a few exceptions, seems rather undervalued in today’s market.

Overall

However, overall, this was a lovely sale with many beautiful old bottles and some remarkable prices that spoke to a market that virtually bristles with demand. We’ve come a long way from the 1990s when these kinds of stunning old bottles were commonplace at auction.

These days, the few examples that still exist or turn up, are hotly contested. A phenomenon which is frustrating but understandable. These are the kinds of bottles upon which the legend of Scottish single malt – and blended Scotch – has been constructed. Let’s hope a few more continue to appear in the future.

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